The Righteous are the Merciful
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 25:31-46.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
We have come to the end of the Liturgical Year. The Solemnity of Christ the King sums up the whole Cycle A with the vision of Jesus as Judge. In this vision presented to us by Jesus who refers to Himself as the Son of Man, at the end of times He will judge everyone according to his life.
If the end of the world brings with it the final judgement, then Jesus has already given us the cheat sheet. The questions are already leaked ahead of time. All of these questions refer to the acts of mercy that the Church has taught us. The final judgement then is all about measuring how merciful we all have been. More than doing good deeds, it also tests how much our disposition and our characters have grown to be like God, the Father of mercies. How God-like are we? The King of kings will weigh the harmony of our being and our doing, of our spirit and our actions, of who we are inside that flows to the outside.
The curious thing in the story is that those who were deemed worthy of heaven were surprised at the judgement handed down to them. When they did the good that they have done, their intentions were not to gain heaven but to serve the needy person before them. The righteous are those that saw concrete and real suffering and addressed it. They were not blinded by ambitions of glory and heaven. Mercy is the purest expression of love – it extends itself without expecting anything in return.